It is that brief, thrilling time when my front garden blazes with color – well, at least to me it blazes. Anyone walking by will note clumps of species tulips, erythronium, hellebore, and brunnera, which to them might look more like spots of color. 

I will take it. By next month – with a few exceptions – it will all be green and  (some) white, deeply shadowed by tree cover. Those looking for relief on a hot summer’s day could do worse than come over and stand in front of my house.

There are always a couple stars of the season. Though my several varieties of hellebores are expanding beautifully, even standing up tall and showing their too-often-downturned floral faces, this year I must recognize two other species that are dominating my small front garden with equal authority.

I don’t take these flowers too seriously, as their seasons are so short – preludes, really – but that’s really the best part. 

First, there are the clouds of blue thrown up by Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost,’ a perennial that deserves all the plaudits it’s received and holds up better than a few other “perennial of the year” winners over the years. I seem to remember a scabiosa and a geranium that I’ve never found to more than meh. But maybe they didn’t like my conditions. That wouldn’t be rare.

Sure, the silvery foliage is great for shade, but this brunnera also seems to flower more and more each year. I’ve noticed that my neighbors are planting it too; maybe we can start a blockwide trend. It withstands my deep, unrelenting shade and root-laden soil splendidly.

Second, though this entire plant will disappear in a few weeks, the erythronium have also been performing beyond expectations. Though I only have 2-3 varieties, nothing like the erythronium destination Anne describes here, I enjoy them all the more for my limited display. 

What I’ve noticed is how tall they’ve been getting over the years; a couple even looking to rival one of my younger martagon lilies (which are now really just lily beetle decoys) in height. They are also putting out multiple flowers per plant, which hadn’t been happening before. I mainly have the ‘Pagoda,’ and have been increasing my revolutum ‘White Beauty.’ Interestingly, I don’t have the one native to Western New York, americanum, but it’s everywhere in local preserves.

Here are ‘Pagodas’ with species tulip tarda.

The nice thing about these is that the leaves decline quite quickly and I can get rid of them to make room for summer plants in a timely manner. 

We’re having a nice dampish, not-too-chilly spring at the moment, a perfect time to enjoy these flowers before the real work begins.